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Monday, August 18, 2008

Uchiha Itachi

Itachi Uchiha (うちは イタチ, Uchiha Itachi) is a missing-nin from Konohagakure, and a prominent member of Akatsuki, partnered with Kisame Hoshigaki. He is Sasuke Uchiha's older brother.

Itachi (鼬) can be translated as "weasel".[3] To some degree of Japanese belief, weasels are considered a harbinger, often signifying ill fortune (possibly a reference to his murder of his family).[4] His surname, Uchiha, is another way of pronouncing uchiwa, or a paper fan, which is actually the Uchiha clan symbol. An uchiwa can be used to fan flames, making the flame hotter, referring to the fact that the Uchiha is a clan of fire-jutsu users.

Itachi is relatively popular among many fans of Naruto, often having ranked in the top ten in Shonen Jump magazine's popularity polls since his introduction. He was first ranked in the third character popularity poll ranked in 11th place.[5] He was ranked 9th place during the fourth popularity poll, and 6th place in the fifth popularity poll.[6][7] During the sixth, most recent popularity poll, he again was ranked in 11th place.[8][9]


A genius above all others, Itachi was born into the Uchiha Clan and praised by all as the best of his generation. However, not even his family, friends, or teachers could understand him.

[edit] Early Life

Not much is known about Itachi's childhood, only that at age 4 Itachi had already witnessed countless lives lost due to war, which emotionally traumatized and affected his demeanor. It is also known that he graduated from the ninja academy after only one year. At age 7 he graduated from the Academy and mastered the Sharingan at age 8, passing the Chunin exam at age 10 and becoming ANBU Captain at age 13.

He was praised highly by his father, who saw the family's future in Itachi and neglected his other son-- Itachi's little brother Sasuke. However, during this time Itachi showed great affection towards Sasuke, and even encouraged his father to come to the Academy when Sasuke was enrolled, something their dad had otherwise forgotten, by saying that he would otherwise not come on a mission.

After having acted strange for a long time, not coming to the clan meetings and refusing to train with Sasuke, it would finally seem that he snapped. With the help of Madara's teachings (and possibly the help from Madara himself), he slaughtered his entire clan overnight (with the exception of Sasuke). Due to the fact that Sasuke was never to know about the Uchiha's attempt at a coup'd etat and the Konoha higher ups's orders, Itachi used his Mangekyo Sharingan to capture Sasuke in a genjutsu and show him how he had killed everyone. After this Sasuke ran away, but Itachi confronted him again and explained that he did it all to test himself. He also explained that the new eyes he had acquired could also be acquired by Sasuke and all he had to do was to kill his best friend. Telling Sasuke that he let him live because he had the potential to become as strong as him, he also tells him to hate him and detest him, if he ever wanted a chance of defeating him.

[edit] Personality

Itachi is a mysterious character and often acts as though he is concealing his true self. While flashbacks to his past show that at one time he seemed to be a compassionate brother, his later acts and claims make it seem that this was mostly just an act. But, surprisingly, he actually is the compassionate brother he once claimed to be, but he hides this to protect his brother. When he openly challenged the clan's ideas, he showed some degree of anger but never lost his composure.

As a member of Akatsuki, his personality is almost emotionless and possesses incredible self control. He only shows surprise when opponents prove more powerful or skilled than he had expected, and even then it does not impede him. He does not display a typical villainous arrogance, and any brags he makes regarding his power are often fully justified. Despite his status as a wanted criminal and having murdered a significant portion of his family, Itachi does not display any open enjoyment of violence or combat, instead preferring to avoid battle or, if this is not possible, end it as quickly as he can.

Itachi's only initial interest is in Akatsuki's goals and his only loyalty appears to be to the organization and its members, putting the organization's success and secrecy before everything else.[10] As such, Itachi gets along with his partner, Kisame, much better than most other Akatsuki members do with their own partners. Kisame, in fact, has a deep loyalty to Itachi, immediately doing as he instructs and constantly looking out for his well-being. Itachi treats all of his fellow Akatsuki members to this same, more respectful personality, although his courtesy is often not returned by the other members.

However, during a genjutsu duel with Sasuke and describing the cruel methods the clan has employed over the years, he displays uncharacteristic passion, violently denouncing the clan's former goals, calling Madara "a pathetic shell of his former existence" and claiming he alone is worthy of inheriting that power and status. Once that illusion is dispersed, he describes it as his 'true self,' implying that even his emotionless personality is a facade. This also suggests he is willing to go to any lengths to acquire this power, willing to pluck out his brother's eyes to save his own power from fading.

Madara, however, later reveals that this is not the truth. Itachi really was the caring brother that he once claimed to be only an act. He had killed his clan only because he had been ordered to by the leaf village to stop the Uchiha from rebelling against the village. His childhood experience in war had caused him to greatly fear the violence the Uchiha could cause, so he had no choice but to murder his entire clan, creating the image of his "evil" side that so many had known him to be. Deep down, Itachi had cared a lot for Sasuke, so he never revealed the treachery of his clan to keep his brother believing their clan was a noble one. Itachi had always planned to die by Sasuke's hands, so he could compensate for all he had done by making his name known as the hero who defeated the one who slaughtered the Uchiha clan (contrary to the popular belief, Itachi never meant for Sasuke to obtain the Mangekyou Sharingan, because that would mean he'd have to find out about Itachi's true past for him to care enough to Sasuke, thus triggering the Mangekyo transformation.) [11][12]

[edit] Abilities

In the few battles he has been seen in since the start of the series, Itachi was shown to be an extremely powerful ninja. This is demonstrated by his ability to easily defeat Deidara and Kakashi Hatake. He is a master of the Sharingan, as he has demonstrated great talent with its abilities, such as its unique genjutsu throughout the series. When faced with an opponent's Genjutsu, Itachi can use his Sharingan to dispel it or perform "Demonic Illusion: Mirror Heaven and Earth Change" (魔幻・鏡天地転, Magen: Kyō Tenchi-ten) and turn the Genjutsu against its user.[13] Itachi is also noted to be very fast with his movements, since Kakashi, a fellow Sharingan user, couldn't keep up with his speed[14]. Sasuke later commented on this speed in Part II during his fight with Itachi, since Itachi was capable of forming hand seals while throwing multiple shuriken and defending Sasuke's attacks at the same time.

Itachi's Mangekyo Sharingan
Itachi's Mangekyo Sharingan

Itachi also possesses the Mangekyo Sharingan, which enables him to use his most powerful techniques. With his left eye, he can use Tsukuyomi, a genjutsu that traps an opponent's mind in an illusionary world, torturing them for what seems like days in a matter of seconds.[15] With his right eye he can use Amaterasu, which allows him to create a black flame that he can direct with his eyesight, burning everything in its path. His final technique is Susano'o, a technique that manifests as a spectral being made of chakra resembling a yamabushi with a tengu mask surrounding his body. It wields the Totsuka Sword, a spectral sword with the ability to bind what it cuts into an alternate dimension, trapping it in a Genjutsu state forever, and Yata's Mirror, a shield that can reflect many attacks. Zetsu, a fellow Akatsuki member, states that Itachi's mastery of the Sharingan's Eye Techniques and genjutsu makes him invincible to many opponents. Despite his mastery of the Mangekyo Sharingan, Itachi is falling prey to its side effects, as his eyesight is worsening after every activation and he will eventually go blind from its power, and his Sharingan will be forever sealed away.[16]

In terms of standard Ninjutsu, Itachi can create Shadow Clones to perform techniques for him and act as shields from attacks. These clones can also be commanded to explode with "Clone Great Explosion" (分身大爆破, Bunshin Daibakuha).[17] As a member of the Uchiha clan, he can also perform "Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique" to catch opponents in a blast of fire, and in the anime can breathe multiple fireballs with Fire Release: Phoenix Immortal Fire Technique (火遁・鳳仙火の術, Katon: Hōsenka no Jutsu). With "Water Release: Water Fang Bullet" (水遁・水牙弾, Suiton: Suigadan) he can also catch targets in a circle of crushing water.[18]

In Ultimate Ninja 2 Itachi doesn't always appear to use shadow clones. When using "Clone Great Explosion" or, as called on UN2 "Shadow Clone: Smash" the clone appears to be a water clone. He also uses a defensive technique called "Shadow Clone: Haze" which summons a clone if Itachi receives a physical attack. He and his clone begin punching their opponent back and forth until the true Itachi finally delivers a strong kick, sending the opponent flying.

[edit] Part I

[edit] Return of Itachi arc

Itachi was first introduced alongside Kisame during a mission to kidnap Naruto Uzumaki, commenting about the damage done to Konoha by Orochimaru's invasion. When Kisame responded by asking Itachi if he still had any feelings left for his village, Itachi claimed he has none left at all. The two, before searching for Naruto, quickly stop for tea due to a suggestion by Kisame. While there, however, their uncommon clothes draw the attention of Kakashi Hatake, who has Asuma Sarutobi and Kurenai Yuhi follow Itachi and Kisame. Itachi and Kisame nearly manage to escape Konoha, though Asuma and Kurenai catch up to them in time.

After the two revealed their identities, Itachi and Kisame were quick to battle Asuma and Kurenai after they refused to leave unharmed. Despite their high ranks of Jonin, Asuma and Kurenai stood little chance to the two Akatsuki members. However, the arrival of Kakashi, who had gotten worried, managed to keep Asuma and Kurenai from receiving any major damage. After a short skirmish with Kakashi, Itachi activated his Mangekyo Sharingan, and used the Mangekyo dojutsu, Tsukiyomi which managed to put Kakashi in bed for many days. After Kakashi revealed he had knowledge of Akatsuki, Itachi ordered Kisame to kidnap Kakashi and kill Asuma and Kurenai, up until Might Guy shows up, revealing that he's already told the ANBU about the two Akatsuki members. Itachi and Kisame retreat, saying they don't want to start a war.

Itachi and Kisame then continued searching for Naruto, though trouble arose when Jiraiya took Naruto to search for Tsunade. While at first they worried about the possibility of having to battle Jiraiya, Itachi used a genjutsu on a pretty woman to seduce Jiraiya into leaving Naruto alone in a hotel. Taking the chance, Itachi and Kisame confronted Naruto, though at the very same moment Sasuke Uchiha, Itachi's younger brother, immediately arrived to defend Naruto and seek revenge on his brother. Itachi handled his brother with ease while Kisame and Naruto watched, though Jiraiya arrived in time to save the two boys, having not fallen for the hypnotized woman's charm since he knew that pretty women did not usually act that way toward him.

Jiraiya immediately asked Itachi and Kisame if their real goal is kidnapping Naruto, to which they agreed with and Itachi understood that Jiraiya was the one who told Kakashi about the Akatsuki. Though Jiraiya wished to fight them himself and prevent others from getting hurt, he honored Sasuke's feelings and allowed him to fight Itachi. Itachi, however, only proved Jiraiya wrong to let Sasuke fight by using his Mangekyo Sharingan on his younger brother to land the finishing blow. Jiraiya barely saved Sasuke in time using the Toad Mouth Trap, which transformed the entire hotel hallway into a toad's belly to trap Itachi and Kisame. Despite Jiraiya's claim that no one has fled this technique before, the two Akatsuki partners escape with Itachi's Amaterasu, leaving him exhausted.

[edit] Sasuke Retrieval arc

While not making a physical appearance in this arc, Itachi did appear in the form of a hologram during a meeting in Akatsuki's Land of the River headquarters. When asked by Sasori about Sasuke, Itachi remained silent, though Deidara interrupted by telling the two not to worry about Sasuke.

[edit] Part II

[edit] Rescue Gaara arc

Itachi made his Part II introduction as a clone created by Pein using the body of Yura to distract Naruto, Kakashi, Sakura, and Chiyo, who attempted to rescue Gaara. The clone fought the team with combinations of genjutsu and ninjutsu. Kakashi, however, used a shadow clone to bind Itachi long enough for Naruto to destroy the clone.

[edit] Hunt for Itachi arc

Following Kisame's capture of the Four-Tailed beast, Itachi and Kisame had a conversation about the Tailed Beasts. During the proceeding meeting to seal the Four-Tailed beast, Itachi and Kisame told by Pein that Sasuke started a team with some of Orochimaru's former agents to kill Itachi.

After the death of Deidara, Itachi and Kisame were told by Zetsu that Sasuke died by Deidara's finishing blast, along with Deidara himself and Tobi. Afterwards, as he walked under the strange rain that lasted for days, Itachi looked up, and Kisame mentioned that it is "weird" how Itachi seemed as if he were crying. Then, Kisame said it was a shame what happened to his partner's little brother and Itachi became the only survivor of the Uchiha clan. And as he continued to look up, Itachi said in response to his partner: "No, he is still alive, and besides..." before he finished, the sky became clear.

Itachi later chose to send a clone to visit Naruto, who was hunting Sasuke. Though he claimed he wished only to talk, Itachi was forced to stop Naruto's attacks. Whether or not Itachi managed to tell Naruto what he wanted was unknown, as after this the chapter showed the progress of Sasuke. Itachi's clone then left while another visited Sasuke, claiming to want to have a final battle between the two. Sasuke fought Itachi's clone, and it told Sasuke of where they were to have their actual final confrontation, which was in an Uchiha Hideout nearby. However, in chapter 403 it is revealed that Itachi questioned Naruto on his dedication to both Konoha and Sasuke and, when Naruto gave him the answer he wanted to hear, apparently gave him a portion of his power, commenting that he hoped that Naruto would never have to use them, then left to go to Sasuke.

When Sasuke finally arrived, Itachi asked Sasuke what his Sharingan could see, to which Sasuke responded he saw Itachi's death.

They then had a short hand-to-hand fight, until Sasuke impaled Itachi, at which point another Itachi is seen sitting back on the throne. Sasuke then appeared behind stabbing Itachi and asked who the third Uchiha survivor was. Itachi claimed the Uchiha to be Madara Uchiha, and told Madara's story. He revealed the "eternal" Mangekyo Sharingan can give a user immortality, but the user must take the Mangekyo Sharingan eyes of his or her sibling of the same clan, the Uchiha, referring Sasuke as his "spare" set of eyes. From Zetsu's perspective it is revealed that the entire battle and conversations up until this point have all been a Sharingan Genjutsu battle, and neither Itachi or Sasuke have moved once.

The two began another fight which ended with Itachi catching Sasuke in Tsukuyomi and appeared to have taken his eyes with Zetsu. Sasuke admitted that although he could not dispell Tsukuyomi, he could in fact endure it. After Sasuke defeated Tsukuyomi there was no further point in using Genjutsu so the real battle began. Itachi then used Amaterasu, but Sasuke shielded himself by shedding his skin, a technique he was able to use while Orochimaru was sealed within him. Sasuke then used his trumph card, Kirin on Itachi. However, Itachi survived by summoning using Susano'o to defend himself.

As Sasuke's chakra had been exhausted, Orochimaru was then set free, only to be impaled by Susan'o's Totsuka sword, trapping him in a permanent genjutsu. After this, Itachi goes up to Sasuke, raising his hand as if he were going to take his eyes, but he pokes Sasuke in the forehead instead, after which he collapsed and died. Zetsu remarked that Itachi must have been injured before the fight began, as Itachi was not able to dodge attacks he normally could and wasn't fighting at full power. Itachi couldn't dodge the attacks because he was being killed from the inside by a deadly - and as of yet unknown - virus. Itachi's dying words as he poked Sasuke in the forehead were "Sorry Sasuke. There won't be a next time.", which was a reference to the times when he poked Sasuke's forehead when they were children after the latter asked him to train him. It is later revealed that Itachi never had any intent on taking Sasuke's life, but was actually trying to push him to his limits so that he could free him from Orochimaru and his Cursed Seal. Orochimaru is first stabbed with Totsuka, but he manages to escape in the form of a white snake. However, he's then burnt by Amateratsu, and is now presumably dead.

[edit] Post-Death

After Sasuke collapsed, Zetsu left for the battle between Naruto's Team and Tobi; and, after being asked, informed them that Itachi had died and Sasuke was probably on the verge of dying as well. Tobi and Zetsu then left to gather Sasuke and Itachi's corpse to an unknown location. There, Tobi is then shown trying to talk to Sasuke, but he is unresponsive. Tobi then reveals he is also a living Uchiha and the man who knows the "truth" about Itachi Uchiha. When Sasuke sees Madara's Sharingan Eye, the Mangekyo Sharingan is suddenly awakened in his left eye, attacking Madara with Amaterasu. Somehow, Madara manages to survive the attack, even though he is completely engulfed in the searing flames of the eye technique. Recovering, Madara suggests that Itachi transferred his eye techniques to Sasuke for protection, by killing Madara. He continues his speculation, saying that he set it up so that the Amaterasu would activate at the sight of his Sharingan.

After Sasuke asks why, Madara continues by saying it was to protect Sasuke. During this time Madara also reveals that it was him who helped Itachi on "that night" and persuades Sasuke to inquire about Itachi by telling him that Itachi did everything he did, because he wanted to protect the Shinobi World, the Leaf Village, and most importantly, his little brother, Sasuke.

He continues on by telling Sasuke to remember his "kind brother", Sasuke reminisces about Itachi, then faints. When he awakens, he had been tied up by Madara so that he doesn't leave. Madara goes on saying that the only people who knew the truth about Itachi were the Third Hokage, his two advisors Homura and Koharu, and Danzo. He states that Itachi massacred the Uchiha clan and left the Leaf Village, all on orders from Konoha. He continues saying that Itachi "killed his sense of self" to carry out the mission. Sasuke, now confused asks "Why?". Madara, in turn, told Sasuke that he must start from the very beginning of Konoha's foundation in order to reveal Itachi's "truth".

Madara revealed that before Konoha came to being, there had always been competition and battles between the two greatest shinobi clans: the Senju clan and the Uchiha clan. However, a peace treaty was signed between the two clans but Madara suspected that the Senju clan would never keep their word. After the Fire Country was established, Madara was furious that Hashirama Senju was named the First Hokage and left the country. When the Kyubi attacked Konoha, the Leaf's upper echelon suspected the Uchiha clan was behind the attack since their Sharingan can control the fox demon. Some of the members from the Uchiha clan became rebellious upon knowing that suspicion and formed a coup d'etat against the Leaf. In response to that, the Leaf stationed a spy amongst the group: Itachi. Because of this, the manga states that it was "The beginning of Itachi's hell."

Itachi had been four years old during the Third Ninja War. Due to the tragedies he had witnessed, he became a pacifist and put the stability of the village above all else. Itachi loved the village and had no interest in clan politics. However, he was ordered by his father to enter ANBU as a spy for the Uchiha. Itachi realized that if a clan as powerful as the Uchiha instigated a rebellion, the entire Land of Fire would feel its effects, weakening the nation. Such a trauma would have undoubtedly been seen as an opportunity for attack by the other nations, thus starting a Fourth Ninja War. To circumvent such a disaster, Itachi betrayed the Uchiha, becoming a double agent for the village. Although the Third Hokage made attempts to negotiate with the clan, the Uchiha continued to plan their coup d'etat. Itachi approached Madara, who at the time was seeking revenge on both the Uchiha and the Senju clans. In return for the safety of the village, Itachi offered to help Madara slay the Uchiha clan. Itachi's mission was thus to eliminate every Uchiha and leave the village forever. However, when the time came, Itachi was unable to overcome his love for his little brother, Sasuke. As a result, he told his brother he had slain the clan merely to test his abilities, and gave Sasuke the goal of revenge in order to make Sasuke stronger. In order to ensure Sasuke would not live in shame because of his heritage, Itachi implanted the idea in Sasuke that the Uchiha clan was a noble member of Konohagakure and that he had killed them for petty reasons. Itachi begged the Third Hokage not to tell Sasuke the truth, and also threatened Danzo to prevent him from harming Sasuke. After his last mission for the village was completed, Itachi spent the next several years planning his own death at Sasuke's hands.

Itachi's last smile to his brother.
Itachi's last smile to his brother.

Madara explains that Itachi came to the village in order to warn Danzo and the two elders that he was still alive. Also, he planned his whole fight with Sasuke just to give him Mangekyo, to take out Orochimaru's cursed seal, and to die in front of him, which was his life goal and final mission. It is revealed that Itachi wanted to die by Sasuke's hand so that he would become a hero for avenging the Uchiha clan. During the fight Itachi was plagued by an illness that would've killed him earlier had it not been for medicine and his love for Sasuke. For the sake of Konoha and for Sasuke he was willing to die as a criminal and a traitor. He accepted dishonor for honor and hatred for love, and even then he died smiling. He entrusted the Uchiha name to Sasuke so that it would be proud again. In a flashback it is revealed that Itachi gave some of his power to Naruto (what this exactly means is currently unknown) for reasons unknown, but it seem that Itachi might have known Sasuke would attack the Hidden Leaf.

[edit] Quotes

  • "In order to overcome your barriers, you and I have to continue living together; even if it means hating each other, that's what being an elder brother means."
  • "You don't have enough hate in you. And you know something, you never will."
  • "You are not even worth killing."
  • "Go away... I'm not interested in you at the moment."
  • "You are weak. Why are you so weak? Because you lack... hatred."
  • "Foolish little brother, if you wish to kill me, hate me, detest me, and survive in an unsightly way. Foster your hatred. Run, run and cling to your wretched life. And one day, when you have the same eyes I do, come before me."
  • "My... eyes.... My..."
  • "You see....being the best isn't all it's cracked up to be."
  • "Knowledge and awareness are vague, and perhaps better called illusions. Everyone lives within their own subjective interpretation..."
  • "Did you get a little taller?"
  • "Aren't you going to scream out and charge at me like last time?"
  • "People live their lives bound by what they accept as correct and true. That's how they define "reality". But what does it mean to be "correct" or "true?" Merely vague concepts... their "reality" may all be a mirage. Can we consider them to simply be living in their own world, shaped by their beliefs?"
  • "Sorry Sasuke, Maybe next time."
  • "Sorry Sasuke... there won't be a next time..."
  • "Kisame...we are taking Kakashi with us."
  • "I've given you some of my power. I hope...the day never comes when you have to use it." (Said to Naruto)

[edit] Merchandise

Several pieces of merchandise based on Itachi have also been released, including key chains,[19] plush dolls,[20][21] and figurines.[22][23]

[edit] Reception

Itachi has ranked highly in the Shonen Jump popularity polls for the series, continuously placing in the top ten and reaching sixth place once.[24][25] There has not been another poll as of 2005.

IGN characterized Itachi as "badass" and jokingly mentioned he is a character to be afraid of.[26]

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